Friday, March 8, 2013

IV program gains ‘wins’ in safety, savings

Patient Affordability is one of three pillars of the Partners’ Strategic Initiative, along with care redesign and reputation/communications. By improving efficiency and removing costs from the system, Partners is taking important steps to address making health care more affordable. To achieve this goal, Partners has committed to implement $300 million in systemwide cost savings over three years (2012-14) by implementing best practices, eliminating duplication and making use of process improvement tools to improve the delivery of patient care.

Every year, intravenous (IV) drugs are administered to thousands of patients across the Partners system. The annual cost is about $24 million for the two main types of IV products:

  • Sets (tubing) and solutions ($13 million)
  • Pre-mixed medications ($11 million)

As part of the Partners Patient Affordability effort, systemwide teams met to evaluate the IV products and services available through the various vendors the hospitals use. As a result of this initiative, Partners hospitals stand to save $17 million over five years.

“We undertook this with the goal of potentially consolidating the majority of IV product purchasing to a minimum of vendors. We did this by evaluating the most-often-used IV products with an eye toward standardizing them as appropriate,” says Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, DNP, FAAN, senior vice president for Patient Care and chief nurse, who co-chairs the Patient Affordability direct patient care team.

The teams were successful on two counts:

  • Consolidation and cost-savings: The willingness of the hospital teams to “test the market” and potentially consider switching products from one vendor to another gave Partners Materials Management leaders the negotiating leverage to reap significant savings on IV products – a projected $17 million over five years.
  • Product standardization: The Chief Nurse Council requested an evaluation of IV pumps. Also called smart pumps, these are computerized IV pumps loaded with drug formularies and data storage systems. About 3,700 from three main vendors are in use throughout the Partners system. “The team organized a systemwide pump trial and one vendor was clearly preferred by the nurses who tested them,” says Ives Erickson. As existing IV pumps get replaced, most will now be purchased from the preferred vendor.

Another IV product affordability effort resulted in consolidating the purchase of tubing with one vendor. Savings from this one change are expected to amount to $500,000 annually.

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